By Warren Kimball
When the United States Tennis Association (USTA) league program first began back in the late 1970s, its total enrollment was some 500 players. This past November 5 through 8, more than twice that number descended on the Wild Dunes Tennis Club on the Isle of Palms for the South Carolina State (district) Super-Senior Championship.
The tournament pitted teams from all over the state with play according to age and level-of-play divisions. The Super-Seniors’ divisions start at age 60, gaining the nickname “Super-Dooper Seniors” at age 70. Level-of-play follows a ranking system ranging from 3.0 to the professional level of 7.0, though the system actually describes an ability range. Rankings are ultimately determined based on play, similar to a handicap system in golf (though there are a heck of a lot more “strokes” in tennis).
Since the program began, the Seabrook Island Tennis Club has entered teams in the USTA leagues, taking wins almost every year since its inception. For a quick history of those successes, check out the many placards hanging on the fence outside of the Seabrook Island Tennis Shop. Teams play in local (Lowcountry) leagues, with the winners going to the State Championship, then on to a sectional (Southern) Championship, and finally to a National Championship.
After a close loss in last year’s State Championship, the Seabrook Grays (3.5 men 70s) returned to try again. Eight teams, divided into two divisions, qualified and only one survived: the Grays. Playing three courts of doubles, they won their divisions in three successive 3-0 wins, leaving a series of tiebreakers to decide the winner. In the finals, the Grays faced a team of shrewd and clever old guys who insisted on following the Wee Willie Keeler strategy: hit ‘em where they ain’t. Seabrook survived, 2 courts to 1, but it was tough. Never had they seen so many deep lobs and forehand slices.
Next for the Grays is the Sectional (Southern) Championship in Pelham, Alabama, March 12-14, 2010, at the Pelham Racquet Club. For more information, visit www.southernsuperseniors.com
Not to count chickens before they hatch, but the National Championships for 3.5 men 70s, is in Surprise, Arizona, April 30 – May 2, 2010. Y’all come! That would be a nice “surprise”.